25 December, 2006

Happy Holidays!


Enjoy your day, week or month off. Or if you're reading this from work, apologies. Steal some office supplies to make yourself feel better.

23 December, 2006

2006: Music much?

I know that not many of you will plough through this update, as it concerns my own musings on music and why I think these particular albums are good and blah blah. At least scroll down and look at the pretty pictures, hmm? I'm not saying these are the best albums of the year, I'm saying they're the best ones I heard. There's a ton of stuff I didn't hear, and a ton of country albums I'm sure I would have loved if I heard the whole thing (Trace Adkins, etc.)

This list is also up or will soon be up on the Citypaper website. I feel bad about having bands like the Flaming Lips on there, as I'm sure theirs was surely not one of the true best albums released this year, but give me a break. This was a low year in terms of musical expansion for me. I went backward and sideways in time, and expanded the scope of knowledge on several artists instead of making an effort to discover new stuff.

Anyhow, here goes.

1. The Slip Eisenhower (Bar/None Records)
Definitely a more refined studio album from a band that stakes their reputation as a live act. Lots of succinct versions of songs they've been playing live for a few years such as Children of December, Airplane, and Paper Birds. They still retain that live feel to the release while making obvious strides in the studio.


2. Tom Waits Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards (Anti)
Tom Waits is one of my favorite artists ever, so this is more of a fanboy inclusion. The three-disc set has more Waits than can be handled at once, but the older stuff puts his entire body of work on display. I think he's definitely an artists that has flown about as under the radar as someone with his level of achievement can get.


3. The Tressels Prison Wine (Self-released)
This local band from Drexel Hill, Pa. has a great sound, as if they just got drunk in the basement of some suburban house and wrote the booziest rock they could muster. I think that's actually what went on. I'm sure nobody reading this has heard this album or heard of this band, but if they keep on going down the track they're on, they'll either be dead or famous by the end of '07.

4. One Dead Three Wounded Moving Units (1x1 Music)
Again, another local band tearing shit up, only in a very productive way. This listens like American Nightmare meets Bane; that is to say, it's fucking hard. This was one of the first CD's I reviewed for Wonkavision, and along with the Tressels, is the only CD which I've given a 5/5. It's simply good hardcore, no frills.


5. Converge No Heroes (Epitaph/Ada)
I am not a fan of metal or noise rock, but the way Converge fuses the two really gets me. I loved You Fail Me when it came out two years ago, and No Heroes follows up nicely. They've gotten away from the experimentation with singing and gone back to the vicious thrashing style of old.


6. Badly Drawn Boy Born in the U.K. (Astralwerks/Emd)
It's very slow and meandering, almost soporific, but would you have BDB any other way? The guy consistently does three hour-plus shows, and the album definitely shows it. Damon Gough really doesn't give a shit about anything but his music, including the patience of his listeners, and I appreciate that.


7. Zox The Wait (Side One Dummy)
Think Yellowcard, only with integrity. Oh yeah, and significantly less pomade. Zox sounds like it's about 6 burly dudes, but really all that big noise is coming from the violin of Spencer Swain. He creates all sorts of ridiculous sounds with that thing, all while scowling. This guy has some serious talent, and after hearing these songs live, I'm sold.


8. Norma Jean Redeemer (Tooth & Nail Records)
Again, not a huge fan of metal, but Norma Jean writes these epic songs that really just inspire awe, kind of like Heresi only less Swedish. This album sounds like some sort of horrible apocalyptic end of the world shit coming through the CD player, and I love it. The fact that it's god-fearing music makes it more impressive, because that's yet another genre I don't generally frequent.

9. Muse Black Holes and Revelations (Warner Bros/Wea)
These guys are so up front about their views it's almost impossible to appreciate their honesty, even if you don't agree with everything they have to say. Couple that with the epic arena-style songs and you've got a great band. Their newest album really goes for the throat, both lyrically and in the musicianship. I'd compare Muse with Old U2; not so much in the sound, but in the attitude.

10. The Flaming Lips At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros/Wea)
Kind of a throwaway pick. I like the Flaming Lips, but Mystics doesn't really break any new ground. That said, these guys are still far ahead of the radio rock or indie scene. I equate the experience of The Flaming Lips to eating a tub of cool whip. Sure it's light and fluffy, but damnit it gets heavy and sickening at the end.

So there it is. Like I said, not the best, but the best I've heard (that were released in 2006, discounting bootlegs and live shows.)

Also, I will not be crafting a list of 'Top songs' of '06 because that's a lot more work than generalizing an entire album. For good, NWO approved lists, see here and here.

21 December, 2006

Self satisfaction is the most satisfying thing of all

People who know me best know exactly why I giggled to myself "Well, now she's really lost" when I read this article.

I am currently still chuckling intermittently about it.

I can't wait for that show to come back, seriously. When 24 starts though, there is the distinct chance I will not give a crap about anything.

Jan. 15 is National Talk Like Jack Bauer Day. I plan on carrying this out to the fullest.

Also, I am going to spend most of my day today reading this Wikipedia article. And why not? What if it comes up in Quizzo someday? Who knows.

At least I have a good parking spot....

My car died again tonight, third time in three years it's had the same exact problem. I get in, I turn the key, and it clicks a bit and won't turn over. Tonight I tried once and the starter clicked. I tried again a few minutes later and the starter didn't even click, just some inside noises.

After a third try, it was obvious that my battery was done. The headlights didn't work, same with the radio. The interior light wouldn't even come on. Wonderful, I think to myself.

Then of course the alarm, which was cut and grounded from under the dash this past summer for situations such as this (when the battery dies and the alarm resets), starts going off. Great. I put the key back in the ignition; the alarm continues to sound. I turn the car 'on.' The alarm silences itself, mercifully.

I remove the key again, same deal. Basically I can't turn the car off or the alarm sounds.

At this point I call my dad (mind you it's nearly midnight, and he's obviously sleeping) and basically ask what the hell I should do.

Minutes later, witness me in the middle of the street , car still 'on,' with the hood popped and my tool case splayed out over the engine block, wrenching the battery connective cables from their positions. Of course the car is still on, taking a charge from the battery. I tell Gwen to stay there because if I suddenly fell over in the street, it means I'd been electrocuted and to please call 911.

I didn't get electrocuted, the battery is disconnected, and I'm going to have a lovely time getting it to a mechanic tomorrow.

I was debating leaving the car unlocked and doors ajar with the hood popped and the keys in the ignition on the streets of Philly overnight. There is a near 100% chance it would still be there in the morning. Can't jack it (dead battery), can't tow it (it's wedged between two other cars), and there's nothing more in it to steal (someone already took it all a month and a half ago.)

Man tomorrow is going to be fun. How the hell do I get my car even a block and a half to the mechanics? Who knows!

Edit: At 7:30 this morning I got up and tried to start the car after hooking up the battery. No dice. The alarm did sort of slowly whine to life though as I opened the door, something like an air raid siren only weaker and with less explosives.

I get to the mechanics and promise him that I will bring the car there for service if he'll lend me the jump pack, which he does. A block and a half later I'm standing in the street again, hood popped, hooking up the battery and connecting the booster pack.

I open the door, and the alarm goes off full bore. I of course yell something not within the realm of publicly accepted speech, and the people at the bus stop all look over. I promise them I'm not stealing the car. Not that it would matter, nobody tried to stop me. I turn off the alarm and turn the key. The engine revs to life. I've just saved like, $120 for towing.

I dropped off the car and the booster pack moments later. I told the mechanic that I needed a new battery, and no alarm. He asked if I wanted it just a simple disconnect, to which I replied "I don't even want the light in the car to blink. Nothing. No alarm at all. Under any circumstance."

Wonder how much this is going to cost? Who knows! To R.I., hang it all!

20 December, 2006

RDA did it better, but I'm an amature

Tonight was official MacGyver night her at my apartment.

My dilemma: I wanted coffee but didn't have enough to make a pot in the coffee maker. Worse, I had ground all the coffee beans to almost a fine espresso grind, rendering the French press almost useless.

But wait! A French press plus a cut up undershirt in between the screen and holder makes a perfect filter. Voila!

Hot coffee. I rule.

Thanks to Seth. It's coming back soon buddy, I promise.

WEINER, WEINER!

A woman with a head the size of her body and tiny little hands?
Perfectly normal.

Remember Weinerville? Yeah, that show was really messed up. I didn't watch it regularly, but when I did catch it I usually ended up freaked out and staring at things in the room for an inordinate amount of time.

It's so satisfying when you mull something over for a few days before figuring out an answer. Example: I got the new Keane album "Under the Iron Sea." It's a brilliant album, but the first track sounds so distinctly like something else, some other song. It's been on the tip of my tongue for several days now as to what that something else is. At exactly 2:14 am on Wednesday morning it came to me: it sounds like Rufus Wainwright's "The Tower of Learning." Not exactly, but somewhat, and that's what I was thinking of anyway so I'm happy. Also it kind of sounds like Travis.

I was talking with someone the other day about how the cover stories in the Philadelphia Weekly are shit. They aren't, mind you, when they DO a cover story about something relevant (see last week's story about Philly school truancy), but the covers in general are utterly ridiculous. Take for example this weeks cover. It's striking: Photoshop-tinted pigs with the headline 'have a hog wild holiday!' The cover story itself is about pet psychics. Of course! And why not, there's nothing else going on in this city. I also hate that there is no indication of internal content on the cover. I do like the picture of the cute dog named Mookie that goes with the article. Seriously, he's cute as hell.

HEY! You're part of it. I rule. And so does everyone else reading this. Sidenote: what a cop-out.

This site is a really interesting idea. I wish they would update ever. I suppose the concept does require a bit of luck though, I mean it's not like you buy old cameras with film in them all the time.

Speaking of great ideas, thanks Denmark! [NSFW]

This is one of the neatest blogs I've read recently. Something like one of those fancy magazines that sell for $12.95 in B&N only online. The campaign for Levi's Jeans is great, I wish I could see this somewhere in real life.

I never imagined I would say this, but I think it's crap that Terrell Owens isn't in the pro bowl. Romo made the cut, but he ain't shit without the camaraderie he developed with Owens. Oh, and Owen's has the most TD catches this season. And he's been playing with a torn ligament, owning to all those dropped passes. Dammit. I need to ritually cleanse myself now, I feel so horrible for defending that bum.

Also, Ray Lewis not making the cut? Warren Sapp? Bart Scott? Al Harris? What's the deal? I like that it's not decided entirely by fans (like the MLB All Star Game) but still, this years voting is perplexing.

Also, I see on Facebook that the word Finals is actually an acronym, meaning 'Fuck, I Never Actually Learned this Shit.' Nice!

19 December, 2006

I am well versed in jargon, buzzwords and ease of use applications, but choose abstinence overall

"It's amazing that everyone's yelling shit, and the only things I can make out are 'anal sex' and 'the internet.' Where's my mind, as Black Francis once sung."
- Mike Doughty, May 7, 2005 at The Middle East

This pretty much sums up how I feel about the internet. Lots of shouting, but nothing really useful coming through, to me at least.

I am an avid reader of the tech blog written by Susan Mernit. As a former technology consultant and current Yahoo! employee, she knows the deal when it comes to technology news and advances, as well as the evolution of the internet to it's current format.

Reading her blog, as well as posts at Slashdot and Wired News is always interesting. I love keeping up with the new advances in cross-platform applications and user driven content. However, I generally can't relate to much of what goes on in the web development community from a user's viewpoint. I'm a casual observer, but active non-participant when it comes to things that are designed to 'streamline' the user experience. The only real intersection of my web activities has come with the recent development of Blogger Beta, which uses the google account login.

I am one of those people that did not grow up with the mindset created by AOL, despite having AOL initially, in that the ISP should also provide a hub for activity on the internet. AOL really focuses on getting users online and then keeping them within the AOL fold, providing messaging, e-mail, news, games and a search engine; a one-stop shop for all things online, if you will.

Yes, I had AOL for a spell, but I never used chat rooms, or any of the things that came along with it. I opted instead for using Netscape and finding my own way around the internet. I only used AOL mail for a short while, switching first to Hotmail, then Yahoo! mail, and ultimately to Gmail. Simple, easy.

I think that internet users like myself are kind of rare, in that I don't use desktop widgets, RSS feed readers, online storage and bookmarking, web accelerators or any of that sort of stuff. I use firefox, and I keep my bookmarks there. I have internet provided by Comcast, but I've never used any of the features they use as selling points such as 'the fan' or webmail. I prefer my internet experience much more streamlined. If I want to go to ESPN's website, I open firefox and type in www.espn.com. It's all pretty simple.

I guess I just like doing things the hard way. I like using the internet for regular and sports news, research, and e-mail, and that's about it. I don't base my life around it. When I hear on the news that online sales are easily going to surpass store figures this holiday season, it surprises me. I still like the human experience of going to the store and purchasing something from a person.

The only real technology I keep up with from an active user standpoint is music downloading. I have gone from an early user of Napster, Grokster and others to Kazaa and Bearshare, leading me ultimately to Bittorrent and currently, Azureus. Outside of that, I could care less.

I guess I'm just difficult like that. From a marketing standpoint, how does a company looking to expand it's user base appeal to me? How do you appeal to someone who simply likes to look a few websites? I was almost had with the advent of del.icio.us, but the idea of having to log in to a website that isn't my e-mail or blogger just doesn't appeal to me.

Edit: Just this morning, I found this item on Wired News about the new company called Pluggd. Now that is something that sounds so completely awesome my mind is reeling. Digital indexing of audio files for words and phrases with the intelligence to link similar ideas, coupled with a search function? Amazing. That means that I could get all the latest news and opinions in podcast format on any given topic without having to sort through all the muck of the podcasting world, which I have knowingly avoided to this point. It even tells you where in the file you are most likely to find exactly what you wanted, so that in a 30 minute podcast, you can skip to minute 17 and hear all about, I don't know, how Peyton can't play in cold weather or some such nonsense.

18 December, 2006

Hop on, bitches. There's plenty of room.

On your right, you'll notice Ed Reed denying Detroit TE Casey Fitzsimmons admittance to the 'Ravens Bandwagon,' which officially giddy's up this week. Last night on Sportscenter, Jaws was practically begging to get a piece of Kyle Boller. Kyle Freaking Boller! It still pisses me off when sports commentators say the Bears are a 'formidable defense' when they gave up 31 to Tampa Bay and 27 to the Rams. Same two weeks, Ravens style? 17 to Cleveland and 10 to Kansas City at Arrowhead.

Of course this means they tank next week at Pittsburgh, but hey they clinched a playoff spot on Sunday so that really won't matter too much. Would be nice to have the top seed, though. I know I'm rooting against the Colts and Bolts for the next two weeks. Also, watching the game on NFL's gamecast and seeing Boller's name pop up filled me with a fear of sheer terror.

So I'm more than likely not going to Ireland now, because the rules for getting a work Visa are changing drastically on January 1. Now a company or business in the EU has to sponsor your Visa application, which means they fill out the paperwork and advertise the job publicly to nationals, and interview any qualified applicants. Basically you're going to have one hell of a time trying to get a Visa for a job like the one for which I applied, plus the company said they don't sponsor people in that matter. I suppose it was a nice thought and something to try for in the future sometime.

On my desk at work sits a Christmas bush of sorts, placed there by a well-wishing fellow office inhabitant. The thing is huge and unsightly, and I hate it. I was working last week and she descended on my desk with a vase large enough to hold a basketball and a few pine clippings. A few turned in to a bunch as she made several trips to who knows where to get these clippings. Then, of course, came the gold balls and lights. And why not? It only took her about 15 minutes of puttering to get it fluffed, decorated, and perfectly situated on the corner of my desk, where it sits now, un-watered and dropping needles like it's got the mange.

"You need to get into the Christmas spirit," she tells me. "You don't seem like you're enjoying the Holidays." I wanted to tell her that I'm perfectly content being filled with holiday cheer in my own way (read: I don't have to be here for a week). I wanted to reply that yes, the bush did bother me, especially since everyone who walks by feels the need to comment on it so that the awkward silence that is working in this office is alleviated somehow. She walked by my desk today with a similarly sized vase of pink tiger lilies, and I sat mortified in fear that she was only going to water them and then put them on my desk for 'motivation,' incentive,' or some other horrible word that gets thrown around on occasion. At least this hideous thing nearly shields me from the rest of the office. Privacy at last!

Only three more days at Penn, then I have a week off. It's going to be tough getting the motivation to come back at all. May, where are you?

I gave Gwen one of her Christmas presents early: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. This was going to be a Christmas present last year, then a birthday present, then a whenever present, and now full circle to Christmas again; that's how long she (and I) have been waiting for it's long delayed release. I wanted her to be able to play it in the days she has off leading up to the holiday, because after the 26th she's busy at work again and won't have as much time to devote to video games. Of course, my giving her the game wasn't entirely for that purpose. I love watching the Zelda games, and really couldn't wait to see this one. Since giving her the game on Friday night (Sat. morning) at 12:30, she's played it for 16 hours. I've watched for about 14 of those hours.

The weather outside is decidedly frightful, assuming that you think the idea of a 50 degree day in late December is frightening. What the hell is going on? When's is going to get cold and stay cold?

16 December, 2006

We're going to observe the first law of rocking which is: Keep on Rocking

Fan - "Freebird!"
Doughty - "You're coming on stage and we're going to fight"

There's something to be said about the friendly antagonism of all-request shows. Doughty played for nearly two hours, with two songs planned out, taking requests from the audience for the rest of the time.

Probably one of the best experiences I've ever had with live music, despite the lack of high tech effects and huge crowds. Doughty is an fantastic songwriter and lyricist, in my opinion. He was a classmate of Ani DiFranco, herself considered a great lyricist and poet (not by me, but by some.) He turns 37 this coming year, when many artists are sinking into obscurity. He seems to have found his place in the world now, after breaking up Soul Coughing, being dropped from Warner Brothers, and fighting heroin addiction.

Grace came by at 8:30 or so and we headed to Teaneck, just outside of New York. Easy driving, light traffic. We got there just as Doughty was beginning his second song. I got a beer and settled in.

The crowd wasn't huge, probably about 60 or 70 people. More than I expected, but not enough that it wasn't a really intimate sort of show. There was enough room to move around, and the walls had booths and tables.

He has one of those voices that translates well to the live show, and he's never achieved that level of fame that seems to turn some bands and artists into complete, raging assholes. He plays without pretense, and I think that the audience last night seemed to appreciate that. People were really good about quieting down when he pointed someone out for a request, and once he started playing, the audience afforded him the respect of quiet, especially during very quiet songs like Janine. I was standing near the stage and could hear people in the back bar talking. It was a really surreal. experience.

I'm glad it was just he and bassist Andrew 'Scrap' Livingston. It was a much more personal experience. No offense to drummers, but sometimes the snare and cymbal crashes ruin the intimacy of a song for me, especially the ubiquitous crescendo at the end.

We stuck around after the show ended and hung out for a while, talking to both Mike and bassist Andrew 'Scrap' Livingston. Great guys both. It was nice to see an artist in that way, in an empty club after a show. He seemed so satisfied. A 30 date tour in front of Barenaked Ladies fans will do that to you, I guess.

The set list, as I mentioned, was fairly comprehensive. I could definitely listen to him play his entire catalog, but I also can't complain about a nearly two hour show by one of my favorite artists. I wanted to hear "All The Dirt" and "Sweet Lord in Heaven," but he did play pretty much every song of his that I like. I'm just upset that I missed the first song; it could have been anything, and I didn't think to ask someone.

Main Set
1. ?
2. True Dreams of Wichita
3. 27 Jennifers
4. Down On the River By The Sugar Plant
5. I Hear the Bells
6. Your Misfortune
7. Shunned and Falsified
8. A Frog Playing A Banjo
9. Thank You Lord For Sending Me the F Train
10. Rising Sign
11. Soft Serve (SC)
12. Real Love
13. Untitled New Song
14. Madeline and Nine
15. Unsingable Name
16. Ani DiFranco "Fire Door" mix
17. Circles (SC)
18. Grey Ghost
19. Busting Up a Starbucks
20. Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well
Encore 1
21. The Gambler
22. Janine (SC)
Encore 2
23. Ossining
24. Looks

There are a few more unedited pictures up on Webshots here, and Doughty posted a few photos I sent him on his blog here.

14 December, 2006

Super Special Questions Blog Part 2: The Rip Off

I'm seeing Mike Doughty tonight in Teaneck, NJ. It's just by New York, but apparently the place is a restaurant and bar, one of those really small places that also happens to have shows.

I'm going to bring Gwen's camera with me to snap a few shots, and if they turn out I'll be posting one or two here. Doughty's photo policy is open, or at the discretion of the headliner or club. Since he is the headliner tonight, I called the club and they don't have a photo policy of any kind, or a taping policy, so the path is cleared as far as I know. It should be a good show, small and very subdued.

Chances are I won't be going to Ireland after all. I need someone there to sponsor my Visa application, and the woman I had been speaking to said that her company doesn't sponsor people like that. She said I was welcome to come over on a holiday visa and work there under the table. She suggested I work at a pub in the town (there are only two) for cash to pay for living (since I couldn't live at the company) and come in a few days a week. No thanks, the fugitive life doesn't really appeal to me. When I go to the airport to come back, I don't want to be arrested and thrown in jail for overstaying my Visa.

Sooo, if I can't find someone else in another part of the country or with a different company to sponsor my Visa, and I still don't have a full time job by the time May comes around, I'll be working at camp again. More than likely I'll just help out the ranger staff doing odds and ends and basically working like hell. It's more fulfilling and fun than it sounds. At least I know what's going on with my life (umm, sort of.)

Anyway seeing Doughty tonight. Leaving whenever Grace gets here, since she's driving up from Baltimore. It's going to be great. Details to follow.

13 December, 2006

Streams of Whiskey et. al

I realized today from their website that not only were The Pogues the subject of a very comprehensive and well-authored book by Carol Clerk released in October, but they re-mastered all five of their studio albums and re-released them. Not only that, but each disc has six(!) extra tracks that weren't on the original studio albums, and one of them has 7. I know what I am spending my money on in the new year. This is up there with Tom Waits in terms of albums I need to get my hands on soon, although Waits still blows the Pogues out of the water.

Anyhow, the book, though, is what really interests me. There are extensive interviews with current and former Pogues, but that's not the real draw. Apparently, from the reviews I've since looked up, author Carole Clerk really gets the notoriously difficult Shane MacGowan to open up about things he hasn't discussed in years.

If you're unfamiliar with The Pogues, they are the ones that paved the way for the successes of bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Building on the successes of The Dubliners, and even further back the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, at playing Irish folk, The Pogues took the traditional Irish instruments and folk songs and infused them with the spirit of London's 80's punk scene, creating new life to a maligned style of music.

Of course their name is derived directly from the Gaelic phrase "Pogue Mahone," meaning kiss my ass. They're clever, they are.

On a slightly related note I have been exchanging e-mails with a woman from the Killary Adventure Company. Maybe something will come of that and I'll have a pretty sweet job come springtime. Posted below are two pictures from the area around Killary A.C. that I took this spring. It is right in the middle of an area known as the Famine Road, Co. Mayo. It's named this because it is the route by which people tried to get out of Ireland during the famine. Many died en-route because there is literally nothing in the area to speak of besides hills, rocks and sheep. Who knows. If I were to find a job in Ireland for a spell, I am certainly going to take it. Here's hoping.

Also, Rest in Peace Peter Boyle, La Salle's prodigal son. He died today at the age of 71. The Comm. Department is now accepting applicants for the right of Claim to Fame for the University.
Aasleagh Falls, just downstream from the town of Leenane.
Looking downstream from Aasleagh Falls toward a few houses built on the hillside.

12 December, 2006

It's not always sunny in Philadelphia. It is, in fact, raining today

Who is looking at my blog from somewhere in the neighborhood of Saskatchewan? I tried looking up the IP address and it says it's from Georgia? Wuh? Not that I mind, but my intense curiosity has gotten the better of me. Oh well, hello Canadian/Georgian friend, whoever you may be.

Nobody at Penn finds it funny when I compare the Law school's Bold Ambition Campaign to Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour. Why am I the only one in this whole office that finds that amusing? Can someone explain that to me? Sidenote, Blonde Ambition is also an upcoming Jessica Simpson movie. Sweet!

I know I've been harping on work a lot lately, but this is ridiculous, and can be filed under my list of reasons why, on occasion(read: always) I find women intolerable. I'm sitting at my desk, and two young ladies who work in the same office are holding court by the water cooler (how cliche, right?) They both live with their boyfriends, and this mornings conversation centered on bills. So one says to the other that her boyfriend is such a jerk because, apparently, he paid the cable bill. Not only did he pay it in full and on time, he didn't tell her he was going to pay it, and didn't consult with her first. She was genuinely angry/upset about this.

HEY, MORON, it's a bill. No consulting necessary. You get bill, you pay bill, end of transaction. You know the damn bill is coming every month, and you know it needs to get paid, so why the hell is she so pissed that he just went ahead and paid it? What, did you want to wait a few days and pay the late charge just for kicks? The deal is you give him half the money whenever you get the chance, that's how it works. There's no way I'm going to bitch like that if Gwen pays the PGW bill without me knowing and asks me for the $20 or whatever to cover my half after the fact.

Yesterday afternoon, on the floor of the bathroom at work, there was a cellophane wrapper with the telltale 3-pack sticker on it. I continued laughing out loud even when someone else walked in. If you don't know, just ask. Or don't.

I really enjoy Lou Reed when I'm trying to get work done. Not sure why.

I'm going to see The Slip again on the 29th, only this time it'll be in Providence. It's a hometown show which they are headlining, so it'll surely be better than the two here in Philly as an opening act.

Now, courtesy of Kissing Suzy Kolber and Howl @ The Moon, I bring you the funniest picture I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever.
Blasphemy!

Is it like, a full moon tonight or something?

This morning was kind of nuts before my day even really began. I rode to Penn through a huge traffic jam just across the South St. bridge due to some roadwork blocking all but one lane. Of course, as I'm going through that construction, this stupid woman almost levels me on her ancient Vespa as she turns out of a side street into the bike lane. I loudly informed her that she is an asshole and to get the hell out of the bike lane; then I noticed that she looks mildly familiar. Of course! This woman parks her Vespa outside of my building daily because she goes to Penn Law. Anyway I beat her to Penn by a long shot, since she got back into the regular lane like a good motored vehicle should.

Sooo, I finally roll up to work, lock my bike, smile because Vespa woman is still stuck in traffic and will likely miss the start of her class, and head across the street to Bucks County Coffee.

As I'm waiting for my bagel to be toasted (bagels are the cheapest thing on the menu...and so good!) I noticed something odd about the guy sitting in the corner. While he was talking to his friend, he was deftly dismantling a green bell pepper with a skinning knife. Not, say, a small pocketknife, but a full-size knife used for skinning and cleaning game animals. Who does this, in the middle of a coffee shop none the less? And who carries a skinning knife, which requires a sheath and everything, honestly? Psychos, man.

The woman working the security desk at Penn asked me this morning "How come you sign in every day?" Note that yesterday she asked me for my fucking ID. Continuing. When I gave her the most quizzical of looks, she says, "you're here every day, why do you always sign in?" Luke Scott take note: this, people, is why carrying a firearm is a really bad idea. Seriously, I was so pissed at her I could have reached over the desk and smacked her. Not the brightest idea in a school filled with lawyers. I'm bringing a blood sample tomorrow because this woman is out of her mind.

The NY Times crossword today has fangs and looks evil. I'm not kidding. Did anyone else notice this? My day has gone to hell quite quickly, that's for sure.

If you're reading this, go sign up to be on last.fm. If you listen to music at all ever, you'll love it.

Speaking of music, I know that some of you who read this don't really do the whole 'discovering new artists on a regular basis' thing well. I do, though. For those of you who are like minded, have you ever sat on a CD for a while and just not listened to it for no real reason. I did this with Sylvie Lewis' album Tangos and Tantrums. I can't believe I never listened to this before, it's brilliant. I've had it in my CD collection since before it was released (it was sent to me as the entertainment editor of the Collegian way back when.)

She has such a haunting voice, and is a genuinely good singer. Kind of like an older, more mature Regina Spektor. Easier to understand and less of the staccato screaming vocal style, though. Of course, it thrills me that she writes all her own music and lyrics.

11 December, 2006

Another week. What a joy.

If you've never gone and checked out the site idontlikeyouinthatway, do it. It's funny. The woman who writes it (myspace) seems to share the same view of Hollywood and pop culture that I do, only she is much more informed than I, and a has a writing style significantly more bitter than my own. I like it.

I want to write for this magazine so bad, simply based on the name. Also, their interview with Tom Waits is really good.

If I don't have a full time job by the springtime, I am going to work at camp again. Doing what, I'm not sure, but I know I'll have a job there if I want it doing SOMETHING. I saw a few jobs posted up on another site for some positions in Baltimore, for The Sun, and I'd definitely apply if I lived in Md. still. Alas, I do not. Well, not alas, but for the circumstance, it's applicable.

I did e-mail those places in Ireland that I mentioned in my last post, and two of them got back to me and said that they do hire people from all over the world if they are qualified, so I sent over my 'CV' (curriculum vitæ) as requested. Both said they hire mostly for summer work, and if I can swing working there during the summer months, you had better bet my ass will be on a plane this spring.

As a sidenote, I am so used to hearing the term résumé that I had to type CV into wikipedia to figure out what the heck this woman was asking for. I've heard it used before, but never in the sense of just a general resume, always in a more high-brow professor's course work sort of way.

The highlight of my Monday was the Irish Crème coffee they being served at Bucks County this morning. I'm not kidding. That was the highlight of the day. I lead an excitingly rich and fulfilled existence.

10 December, 2006

Damn cat. He's sleeping how and is too precious to chastise

I was sitting on the couch this evening and Walter (the new kitten) jumped on to the table and sniffed at my coffee. Then, I watched in absolute horror as he sneezed directly in to my freshly-poured, used the last of the half and half so I'd better not spill it, mug. I was so pissed. I can't wait until he's big enough that he can't finagle his way around everywhere so easily.

Gwen was so surprised this morning when Mike came over to do things for the day. She didn't know he was coming over. I asked her yesterday if she wanted to go to breakfast this morning, and she said yes, not knowing that Mike was going to come by. The look on her face was priceless when she walked in to the living room and saw him sitting there. They went out and I cleaned the apartment a bit and watched some of the Ravens game.

I need a new bag, one of those re-load deals that I can throw over either shoulder. They're expensive, so probably won't go with one of those, but something like that. I don't like using the two-strap book bags, but lately my neck has been hurting a ton. I am fairly convinced that it is because I use a bag from GAP that only goes over the right shoulder; no switching. I like it, but it doesn't hold all that much and I'm pretty sure it's wreaking havoc on my neck.

It's god awfully cold in Philadelphia now, and I love it. I love having to wear a sweatshirt inside; I love getting to work and being out of breath from the cold. Now, if the Eagles would stop tormenting their fans with playoff pipe dreams, this would be a great winter.

Do you think that the Coors light commercials where the dudes are in the audience at a 'press conference' are staged? I think so, because behind Dick Vermeil and Bill Walsh the background is the same. Also, I think that there is not enough noise to convince me that it's a real press conference. Usually when you watch one of those on TV, there is some background chatter, and in the commercials there isn't, only the sound of cameras clicking. I mean, I know the part with the guys with beers are staged, but the coach answering questions is up in the air.

I need one of these wallets sooo bad. Seriously. One of the best lines from that movie:
Jules: Now I want you to go into that bag and find my wallet.
Ringo: Which one is it?
Jules: It’s the one that says, “Bad Mother Fucker.”
So I stumbled on this page, and it's pretty much the best thing ever. The one he had in the movie was printed, but the large stitched one on the site looks so great.

I caught up Kati this weekend, who I haven't seen nor spoken to in so long. Too long, really. I'm glad I did, and I'm glad I have someone who was such a good friend all through high school back in my life. It was nice to be able to catch up over a pot of coffee and be adults, as odd as that sounds.

The caffeinated winter of our discontent, sort of

There's something about French Press coffee that makes you appreciate the flavor and aroma of the brew you are consuming. I prefer it served black, because when you brew it yourself you know that it won't (or shouldn't) be horrible. Plus, the freshness is unmatched. I will be sad when I return Seth's French Press to him after Christmas. It's okay; because I will still have my small one. Plus, it's not everyday you get to see someone who now lives halfway across the world.

I listened to Simon & Garfunkel tonight for the first time in a long time. For as upbeat and pop-ish as they are, some of their lyrics are positively brilliant and depressing. On "Leaves That Are Green," Paul sings "I was 21 years when I wrote this song / I'm 22 now but I won't be for long." This is the first time I've listened to that song post-college, and I began thinking of my life and where I want to be.

I'm 22 now and haven't written a song. I've written plenty of other things, but nothing really that I can hold up and say "I'm proud of this." I'm happy to be freelancing, and I'm very happy to have a job at which I earn money, but I am not particularly satisfied.

I've found that of all the jobs I've held, I get the greatest desire from working with people. Not public service, but, say, teaching kids Orienteering during the summer of '03; working with the staff at camp to make sure they are doing an efficient job; teaching new people how to use the equipment in Backstage; showing new editors for the Collegian how to do things in Quark, or giving them advice on their layout. I enjoy writing immensely, and I know that it is how I am making my living at the moment, but is it something I want to stay with?

I think that I would like to do something with Scouting on a regular basis. I wish I could get a full time job working with the camping program with some council. I mentioned this before, when I returned from Ireland, but I would love to work outdoors doing things like taking groups orienteering or backpacking, canoing or hiking. I'm not sure that I could find something like that, living in the city. I love the city, but I often feel somewhat empty here. There are several places in Ireland I saw that, were I to have absolutely no obligations or commitments to staying where I am, I would consider applying for. This one in particular looked pretty great.

This is not to say I wish I didn't have obligations and commitments; on the contrary, I am content in my life right now. I suppose people always aspire to something else when it comes to work. I think I just need to be out of college for a while longer before really deciding on what to do with myself. This is probably one of the only times in my life that I have several paths before me, and I don't really have to choose one right now.

In the more short-term, tomorrow I am going to commence a thorough cleaning of my apartment. It hasn't bee cleaned in the longest time, so it's high time that happens.

Greetings to anyone who may have wandered over here from Facebook. I've just discovered that I can feed my blog posts here onto the Facebook notes thing. This election year, vots Yes! for cross-platform uselessness.

And now, as a reward to anyone who read through the whole post, here is a funny comic about lesbians. Huzzah!

08 December, 2006

Faster: A bullet, or a Zumaya fastball?

Normally I would post things of this nature in Either Insurance Runs or (newly) Need to Go For a Safety. However, this caught my eye in a broader sense than simply sports. This one can be filed under complete lunacy.

In an article on ESPN which has obviously been in the works for some time (see the full text here), three writers interview professional athletes about their firearm carrying habits. The results, and quotes, are surprising. I point you to the picture of Karl Malone firing a bolt-action camouflage rifle. His nickname is 'The Mailman,' and so I ask you, what idiot sold this man a gun? You'll note Malone at left, shooting off a few rounds on his private range.

And why does Astros Outfielder Luke Scott need to carry a glock in the waistband of his pants while driving around the city at 1am? That's right, Luke Scott packs heat. Not only does he pack it, he shoots it on a range and intimidates would-be thieves at the gas station.

Luke Scott on his gun:

"An athlete gets paid a lot of money," he said. "And someone who is after that, a thief, a mugger or someone who steals from people, they are taking a chance with the law that if they get caught, they are going to jail or face some other problem."

With a broad smile, he added, "In my case, you are going to get shot."

Then there's NFL'er Jay Williams, who is an arms dealer in his spare time. That's right, when he's not on the field or in the weight room, he's selling guns. Gleefully, I might add.

I'm sorry, but this is purely insane. Some athletes have gone off of the deep end with this gun thing. NBA players making millions are still leading around posse's and carrying guns. This is pretty much unnecessary. I like firing a gun myself, but I can't really see that it's necessary to carry a handgun tucked into the front of my pants when I go to Wawa for a Red Bull.

Apparently, Carl Pavano carries a gun as well.

There are only a few people reading this that will nod their heads, but it really bothers me when, in a quote from Patriots receiver Jabbar Gaffney (whose name makes me think of Babbar the elephant), he says that "Lots of guys I know have weapons either in their house or, in places where you can carry it, they have a permit to carry it." It bothers me that he uses the word weapon instead of firearm, because it's not a weapon unless the plan is to use it as such. Sure, they carry guns for protection, but until you fire it in a deliberate act to kill or wound someone, it's a firearm.

I'm a fan of carrying a baseball bat. If I was trying to rob Dmitri Young and he pulled a Louisville from the passenger seat and took a swing at me, I'd be gone.

Anyhow, athletes are insane. Next time you're in Houston and you see Luke Scott, move slowly and keep your hands in plain view.

06 December, 2006

They're fun until your friends find out...

If you belong to facebook, this will probably ring true. If not, you may want to join up just to see if it does once you've read further.

One of my horrible joys in life is looking up people with whom I went to high school. Not just for pure remember when purposes, no. Rather, I like to see who got fat (Note: this only works if you yourself have not gotten fat. Which I haven't.)

Yeah, there's girls (and guys) who have put on more than a few pounds since May 18, 2002. Like, a lot more than a few. Not to name names, because frankly only one or two people who read this rag would know them anyway. I applaud those with whom I graduated who have either maintained their physique, are trying to do so, or simply have the wherewithal to not post pictures in which that look about as big as one of those little cars that Europeans drive.

Seriously though, if I do go to my 5 years reunion, Gwen will have to stop me from saying something incredibly inappropriate to someone. To a person, every former classmate who has since become monstrously large is someone that I can see living in the suburbs of Bel Air all their life, making a mid-level income, hosting Tupperware parties and ladies luncheons, and generally being bitchy all the time.

I'm a horrible person because I make fun of fat people, and I'm fine with that. I'm not the slimmest of the slim, but a walk down memory lane, thanks to facebook, makes me feel good about myself almost every time. Yeah like I said, I'm a horrible person.

Maybe someday I'll write about my idea for a great documentary that would be equivalent to cinematic shit hitting the fan.

04 December, 2006

Forward progress goes 'boink'

Some days on the ride to work, I feel as if I am not moving at all. The wind whips past me, heading back the way I have just traveled. It is moving much faster than I am, so I get the sense that I’m pedaling in place, fighting a battle against the elements that I cannot possibly win. I feel myself pedaling, the sway of my bike back and forth as I shift from one foot to the other.

This never happens on the way home from work, only in the mornings coming in. When this feeling comes over me, I assure myself of progress by looking at the shadow that my bike and I cast on the ground. The image of the spinning tire on the pavement asuages my concerns, and reassures me that I am indeed moving forward, despite what I may feel.

I always feel that on mornings when this happens, the day goes by much slower. Something about that sense of moving in the same spot stays with me all day. Normally I’m not a clock-watcher, but it seems that when I feel it took me an inordinate amount of time to get to work, I also feel that I will be at work for a longer period. This is simply untrue, rather one of those mental quirks that people have.

My work now consists of 30 hours, bumped up from 25. It means more money (obviously), but it also means that I have to be at Penn longer. It’s only a five-hour increase, but it makes a bit of difference. Now I work eight hours on Mon-Wed, and six on Thur., and I have off on Friday provided there is nothing to cover.

I find it disturbing that, on Dec. 1 when I walked to my landlord’s apartment to drop the rent check in his mailbox, I thought nothing of the fact that I left my own apartment in nothing but a t-shirt. I had pants on too, but you know what I mean. Oh and shoes. But yeah, there is something wrong there. When it was the end of October and slightly chilly, I thought oh man, here comes winter, awesome. Then it leveled out and has stayed relatively nice (a few cold days) since. Of course, today it’s actually cold, which is nice. Hopefully that trend continues.

I told my dad during the middle of last week that Martin Garmmatica would miss his first kick with the Cowboys. He did. I win. So did the Cowboys. Nice.

I heard this sweet EP from the band Blanche last night. It’s all folksy but not in the granola loving flowing skirt kind of way, more along the lines of cattle rustling and back room saloon poker. I reviewed it for Wonkavision, which should be up sometime this week along with two other CD’s.

I have a counter on the page that tells me how many people come here a day, and from whereabouts in the world they hail. Lately I’ve been getting some international hits, and I’m curious whom these people are. England, Slovakia, Cape Town, Algeria, Prague, the Czech Republic and Sweden have all checked in since Dec. 2. Who are you people? I’m not saying stop reading; I’m just intensely curious what led someone in Slovakia to read the random, poorly contrived musings of a hack from Philadelphia. Also, since the statistics are tracked for free, the amount of stats it saves is limited. I find it really disturbing what, when I sign in, there is an ad asking me if I want to "increase my log size." Innuendo much?

02 December, 2006

Fridays are for live music; Star Trek

I saw the Slip twice yesterday, once at noon and once again in the evening. Both times were at the Electric Factory. The first set was decent, at a little over 50 minutes. They played six songs, five of which were from Eisenhower. The set list was as follows:

1. If One of Us Should Fall
2. Airplane/Primitive
3. Even the Rats
4. Children of December
5. Sleepy Head (Labeled The Original Blue Air on the NPR site)
6. Paper Birds

They played really well to a crowd that was there to see The Slip and not another band. Each song was about 9 minutes long. I was particularly glad to hear Sleepy Head, since that is the only one of the bunch that I don't have on my computer in any form. The NPR site where the concert is posted for streaming lists Sleepy Head as The Original Blue Air, which is incorrect. The whole set is available on NPR's website (it cuts off mid-Paper Birds), linked here. I checked it out, and it's actually a decent recording. It kind of fades in and out in places, and obviously the fact that it cuts out mid-song isn't really that appealing.

The show tonight had a similar setlist of newer material. I say new only in the sense that the songs are on their most recent album. They have been playing these songs for a while now, so the live performance is already fully developed and up for musical experiment rather than development. The evenings lineup was as such:

1. The Soft Machine
2. Even the Rats
3. ?
4. Airplane/Primitive
5. ?
6. Children of December

I missed writing down what the two songs there were, but oh well. They weren't the same as in the first set, I know that.

Having never seen The Slip live, and having heard that they are one of the better live bands out there, I had high expectations. Those expectations were met, certainly. I have quite a few live sets on my computer which I have listened to a lot, but seeing (hearing?) their meandering song structure evolve on stage is amazing. Drummer Andrew Barr, who was wearing a wolf cap, doesn't play with his eyes open, he seems to feel the sound and evolution of the song, following it on instinct rather than visual clues.

Their connection through the music was especially apparent at the crescendo of Children of December during both sets, as it played nothing like the album. The three came together on stage (or rather, guitarist Brad and bassist Marc converged on Andrew) and played the soaring finale to one of the more popular tracks on the new release.

If it weren't for the pseudo hippies who wish they were from Tennessee dancing around and swirling the scent of hemp and unwashed liberalism everywhere, it would have been 'the best.' As it stands, hippie girls need to shower and shave, and hippie dudes need to..umm... do the same I guess. I left midway through the second band. I didn't feel like sticking around for My Morning Jacket. Not that I really detest them or anything, but I don't really like them all that much, despite people at the concert saying they're the best live band ever. Yeah, if you pay $25 for a ticket they damn sure better be good live. Good thing I didn't pay for the ticket. Also, I think that there are too many effects on Jim James' vocals, making it hard to listen to him singing.

I didn't get to take pictures, unfortunately, which is kind of shitty. I wish I had been able to, especially at the first show today, where there weren't that many people. The evening show was sold out, and the whole place, balcony and floor, was filled with people. Kind of amazing, really. I wish I had a job as a bartender there. You get paid to serve overpriced booze to people and see bands every night, too. Granted, you have to see some pretty shitty bands, but still.

On an unrelated note, there really isn't much I like doing better with my afternoon than watching the 3-hour block of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Spike TV. The show is so ridiculously cheesy sometimes, so of course that's one draw (for me anyway.) One of the episodes on Friday afternoon happened to take place on "Captain Picard Day," and there were all these children's drawings of Picard. I'm wondering who had the good fortune to have to make a few of those as part of their job? I wonder if it was just an intern or some production assistant. I kind of hope they were random things that real kids sent to the producers of the show, but I'm sure they aren't.

01 December, 2006

Warping reality one "kids" movie at a time

I was never much for Disney movies growing up. I remember seeing a few; Beauty and the Beast, Aladin, etc. I never realized until recently that there is something really disturbing about Disney animation: many of the characters, though mostly normal in appearance, have something significantly off about them. I'm not talking about the talking clock or the blue genie, the talking animals or fantasy creatures. I'm speaking more to the human-esque animated characters, such as Tinkerbell. That little pixie is fucking disturbing, but she's not alone. Her forehead is shaped like a Chinook Indian, a fact she compensates with a cleverly placed swath of blonde hair. She's not alone, either.

Jasmine, for example, has disturbingly deep sunken eyes, which are disproportionate to her face to begin with. All of the female characters have those horribly shaped heads, impossibly thin waists, and the tiniest feet ever. Conversely, the male characters come in a broader array of shapes which are only equaled by some shit in formaldehyde you'd see at the Mutter museum. Gaston, Belle's muscular suitor, has shoulders at LEAST 4 times as wide as his hips, if not more. He is incredibly top heavy, his legs accounting for only a third of his body.

The thought train which brought this idea to the post above traveled this route: I was at work, and there was a pink Tinkerbell mug in the sink. I was washing my travel mug and happened to look down and make eye contact with Tink. I thought "wait a second, I thought she was hot..." The picture on the mug was a very unflattering rendering of Tink, and it made me think about the other disturbing animated characters from Walt's perspective-skewing industry.

I still think that despite her faults, Ariel is the most attractive Disney character.

I really resent the fact that the chocolate covered coffee beans I got from Bucks County coffee last week (which I still have in my desk drawer and eat intermittently) are labeled 'Grazing Snacks.' It makes me feel distinctly bovine. It also almost got me in trouble when the girl in front of me yesterday picked up the 'healthy' oatmeal nut and fruit mix. You see I almost laughed out loud, because while I only feel distinctly bovine eating that stuff, she embodied the phrase. I mean she was fat.

Also, when I searched for Bucks County Coffee on Google, I found a series of images from the exact shop that I frequent, apparently taken by a UPenn/Drexel student who used to go there as well.

This morning while listening to my ipod at work I heard the album version of Doughty's "Tremendous Brunettes" and caught, for the first time, the fact that Dave Matthews does the backing vocals. I mostly listen to his live recordings, on which Matthews does not appear. It was odd because I have listened to that album so many times, I don't know how I missed it until now. I've been listening to his song "Sunken Eyed Girl" a lot recently. Great rhythm to it, really upbeat.

I'm thinking about joining this website qloud.com to accompany my membership at last.fm. I love going to last.fm to check such irrelevant things as what I listened to on a certain week last year. Qloud is more of a recommendation site though, and I generally prefer to expose myself to new music in other ways. I don't do too well with discovering artists on the internet. Quite the opposite of the rest of Americans my age, it seems.

I've noticed that I share a sense of humor with whoever conjures up the headlines on ESPN.com. There have been several choice headlines from this week, which are conveniently assembled in a photo grouping above. Check out the third screen shot. There are 3(!) great headlines on that page along. Anyone who knows me knows why I find these titles appealing. Why can't I have THAT job? Honestly...

I leave you with the following photo: